Some of the CSOs were Yiaga Africa, International Press Center (IPC) Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute of Media and Society (IMS), Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund (NWTF) and Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
Samson Itodo, executive director of Yiaga Africa, a member of the coalition, said that the Presidency on November 19 acknowledged receipt of the bill from the National Assembly for presidential approval.
Itodo noted that the bill contained specific provisions aimed at improving the quality and credibility of the elections, which also addressed certain gaps in the existing electoral legal framework.
“Such provisions in the bill include: Legal support for the use of electoral technologies for the purpose of voter accreditation and electronic transmission of electoral results.
Others include the extension of restrictive schedules for electoral activities, the concise definition of overvoting, and the granting of legal authority to INEC to review questionable electoral results.
“Civil society organizations welcome the president’s decision to solicit comments from relevant government ministries, departments and agencies on the bill,” he said.
Itodo said that the input from INEC, the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Fice and the Inspector General of Police, would probably be more crucial in this regard.
However, he urged office holders to direct their interest towards strengthening the electoral process in order to deepen democracy in the country.
“We firmly believe that the bill in its current state will not only encourage greater citizen participation in the electoral process, but will also enhance the capacity of democratic institutions to improve the transparency and legitimacy of electoral results,” he said.
Itodo said that the timely passage of the 2021 bill would facilitate early preparations for the 2023 general elections.
He noted that the successful conduct of any election was based on the certainty and clarity of the electoral legal framework, among other factors.
Another member, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director of the International Press Center, said that the timely passage of the bill would help update the will and aspiration of the people.
Arogundade urged the president to fulfill his commitment to bequeath to Nigerians an electoral system that guarantees credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.
According to him, the National Assembly can modify the bill in the next electoral cycle based on the real and perceived gap identified in its implementation.
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